Social media plays a key role throughout the entire revenue cycle, beginning before prospects are even identified (while they research or follow thought leadership on social media sites) to after they become customers (as they remain loyal customers through retention and cross- and up-sell opportunities).
Here are some successful examples of how brands have incorporated social media well in their marketing mix.
There are four key areas where social media can play an expanded role across the revenue cycle:
- Developing relationships with very early-stage prospects before they even enter your database as a lead (“seed nurturing”)
- Building and maintaining relationships with known prospects as they educate themselves (“lead nurturing”)
- Supporting the sales cycle once the buyer engages in a formal buying process with a sales rep (“opportunity nurturing”)
- Deepening and expanding relationships with existing customers (“customer nurturing”)
Seed nurturing comes into play when qualified prospects visit your site or social media sites anonymously. It is a vital part of the sales process that consists of investing in and building relationships with prospects regardless of whether or not you have their contact information. Just because you can’t identify these individuals doesn’t mean they aren’t qualified leads; nurture them just as you would the known contacts in your database. If you don’t, more agile competitors will steal these prospects from under your nose.
This is the usual process for taking care of a contact who can be your customer. Social media shifts our ways of thinking about nurturing and building relationships with prospects.
Social media can be quite valuable to your internal marketing and sales operations as well. You can promote greater alignment between the two departments by refining the lead handoff process. A successful lead lifecycle requires agreement between marketing and sales on what constitutes a “sales-ready” lead, and agreement on when and how leads should get recycled back to marketing for further nurturing. Social media interactions can provide deep insight into sales readiness and buyer intent, so they are critical to keeping leads moving along the lead lifecycle.
Existing customers are a tremendous source of new and continuing revenue, and should be continuously nurtured just as much as new leads. Customer marketing is a worthy investment for your marketing dollars.